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World Health Organization adviser claims origins of COVID-19 outbreak still not known

Peter Ben Embarek - Wuhan

On Tuesday’s broadcast of Fox & Friends, World Health Organization adviser Jamie Metzl stated that while it is possible that the coronavirus outbreak started in the wild, there is no evidence to prove so.

The lab leak theory was judged “extremely unlikely” in a recent report conducted by the World Health Organization and China. However, Metzl said that the WHO report “is entirely inadequate.” He added, “They’ve done a thorough job of investigating the first hypothesis that you mentioned, that it jumped from bats to other animals to humans, and that’s possible. But they’ve entirely discounted, without any significant inquiry, the very likely possibility that COVID-19 began from an accidental lab leak.” He continued, saying, “It is conceptually possible that this happened in the wild. The evidence for it so far is nonexistent, but we know that past outbreaks have happened that way.”

Metzl, who served as Deputy Staff Director of the Foreign Relations Committee under then Senator Joe Biden and before that on the National Security Council and the State Department under President Bill Clinton and was appointed to the WHO expert advisory committee on human genome editing in 2019, theorizes it was most likely an accidental lab leak in Wuhan. Metzl is one of more than two dozen experts, including virologists, who signed an open letter earlier this month calling for a new international inquiry with a return to China.

The letter says the WHO team did not have the independence or access “to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation” specifically into a possible accidental leak from a laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the city where the first outbreak occurred. “There’s no irrefutable evidence,” Metzl said. “There’s just more evidence and as more evidence arrives, the case for accidental lab leak, in my view, increases.”

Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN last week that in his opinion, the lab leak theory is the most likely, adding that “science will eventually figure it out.” While some researchers believe the strain of coronavirus mutated from a virus that infects animals to one that sickens humans, others believe the virus was somehow released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology — which is the only lab in China authorized to study the most dangerous known pathogens, according to Axios.

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POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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